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What are the best self-development activities?  The ones that work consistently, reliably and give you the results you desire.  In this article, you will learn 12 of the best activities to improve yourself quickly and effectively.

I start by explaining what self-development is and what it isn’t. I’ll then briefly share my self-development journey with you.  This will help you understand what is possible when you consistently apply self-development activities to your life.

I’ll then uncover the 12 best self-development activities for an awesome life.  Don’t feel you have to do them all! Just pick the activities that resonate with you. The ones you feel are most helpful right now.

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What Is Self-Development

Self-development is about becoming more and wanting more in life.  It’s having greater success, happiness, or being more effective and proficient. It’s about developing your talents and potential and achieving your goals and dreams.

A key part of self-development is becoming more self-aware. This is understanding yourself and why you do things. It’s knowing your strengths and weaknesses. It’s being clear on your life’s purpose, mission and values.

So self-development is developing yourself by yourself. But perhaps with the help of other people, through coaching, therapy, reading books or watching videos.

The self-development industry in the US is worth $11 billion. Every year $500 million is spent on personal development products, courses and seminars. It’s a vast market!

What Is Not Self-Development.

Self-development is not being “fixed” by someone or something else. The power to change ultimately lies within you, not someone else.

It’s not learning personal development without applying it to your life. It’s not a dopamine hit. This is consuming self-development content purely to feel better now. This often leads to becoming a personal development junkie.

If you want self-development to be more than a hobby or entertainment, then it’s essential that you apply what you learn.

Would you like a step-by-step formula for success? Or to learn the rules that successful people follow? If so, click the button below to discover this for yourself.

My Self-Development Journey

My first experience of self-development was attending a seminar on stress management whilst at university. This was fascinating and encouraged me to learn and practice meditation.

When I moved to London, I became interested in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) and was actively involved with the NLP practice groups in London.

There were three books that I read that had a massive impact on me.  There were.

At this time, I wanted to improve my social confidence and dating skills. I used self-development activities to help me do that successfully.

I had a wonderful life in my 30s. I got married, had many friends, a brilliant career and lots of opportunities to travel. So, I lost interest in self-development. 

In 2010, we moved to Sydney Australia and continued to have a wonderful life. However, I didn’t feel happy or fulfilled in my career, despite changing jobs several times. Now, in my 40s, I also had some niggling health issues that influenced my state of mind.  I became more interested in natural health. That then led me back into self-development and especially mind-body healing.

I decided to make self-development my career, so I invested in training to become a qualified clinical hypnotherapist and also launch the Self Help for Life online business and brand.

The 12 Best Self-Development Activities That Will Change Your Life

So now you know what self-development is, lets dive into 12 of the best self-development activities that have changed my life and I’m sure they will do the same for you too.

1. Affirmations

Affirmations are short, positive statements about what you want in life. You repeat these statements as often as you can. Repeating them out-loud is most effective, but silently to yourself is good too.

Affirmations help replace those repetitive negative thoughts that keep you stuck. You’re already saying negative affirmations to yourself, so you’re simply replacing these negative affirmations with positive ones.

Related Articles

How to Create Affirmations That Work Extremely Effectively

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An alternative to affirmations is Lofty questions. You can learn about these here.

2. Meditation

Meditation is highly effective for reducing stress and anxiety. Meditation helps you gain a greater awareness of your thoughts and feelings. And when you’re meditating, you can change those thoughts and feelings, or let them go.

The easiest way to meditate is to focus on your breathing. Close your eyes and focus on breathing in and breathing out.  Whenever your mind wanders (and it will frequently, especially if you’re new to this), then accept that this is fine.  It’s completely natural.

Then as soon as you notice your mind wandering (and this could be a few seconds after your mind wondered), gently bring it back to your breathing.

Another option is guided meditations. This is listening to a recording of someone giving you relaxing suggestions. You then focus on the words being said. There are thousands of guided meditation recordings available and also guided meditation mobile apps.

3. Creative Visualization

We naturally use our imagination. However, it’s typically for worst-case scenarios or things we are afraid of. Just like thinking negatively, we imagine negatively too.

Creative visualization allows you to counteract negative imagery by vividly imagining what you want instead. It’s seeing situations and activities going the way you want them to go. Creative Visualization is often known as mental rehearsal, especially in sports and athletics.

Creative visualization is much more than seeing the positive outcome in your mind. It includes hearing and feeling it too. You want to engage all the senses, even smell and taste if you can.

Olympic athletes use creative visualization all the time. It’s an essential part of what they do to become the best in their sport.  They might not consciously use creative visualization, but they definitely do it unconsciously. 

Related Articles

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4. Self-Hypnosis

Self-hypnosis is like guided meditation.  However, it’s more goal oriented. People use self-hypnosis to increase motivation or confidence. Or to stop a bad habit such as smoking, overeating or drinking too much alcohol.

The easiest way is to listen to a self-hypnosis recording. There are thousands of those available and some are more effective than others.

I use and recommend the self-hypnosis recordings created by Uncommon Knowledge. Their website is https://hypnosisdownloads.com

You could learn how to hypnotize yourself without using self-hypnosis recordings. I cover this in one of the related articles below.

Related Articles

How to Hypnotize Yourself | A Self-Hypnosis Tutorial

Self Hypnosis and Meditation – What’s the Difference?

5. Journaling

When we keep thoughts in our head, this can lead to overwhelm and confusion.  It’s very easy to blow things out of proportion. To make it much bigger than it really is.

Journaling is writing your thoughts on paper (or in a computer file). When you do this, you gain a fresh perspective, a calmer mind and greater clarity. Writing can help release emotions too.

For the best results, write your thoughts on paper. However, if you prefer to type your thoughts on your computer, tablet or smart phone, that’s fine too.  The most important thing is to do it!

6. Setting and Achieving Goals

Most people use self-development activities to improve or change their life.  This starts with setting goals, so you’re clear on what you want to achieve and by when. Goals provide a focus for all the other self-development activities.

When you set goals, this gives you the desire and motivation to consistently work on self-development activities. You have a specific reason and benefit to work on yourself.

I encourage you to set SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.

Start by setting goals for this year, and then smaller quarterly or monthly goals.  Equally important is reviewing your goals regularly, at least monthly. Check that you’re on track and make any adjustments to maximize your chances of achieving these goals.

Related Article

How to Set and Achieve Your Goals

7. Coaching

A one-on-one coaching session is a highly effective form of self-development. An excellent coach will ask you direct, dedicated and personalized questions to help uncover your blind spots.

They will help you expand your beliefs about what is possible for you. A professional coach will also identify and help you change any limiting beliefs.

An important benefit of coaching is goal setting with accountability. It’s much harder to wriggle out of a goal that you have shared with a life coach.  You are accountable to the coach. If you fail to achieve the goal, you will need to explain your reasons (and excuses) to your life coach.

In the same way as a Personal Trainer will drive you to do 30 push-ups, when you only feel like doing 20, a skilled coach will spur you to achieve your goals faster and expand on what is possible.

8. Therapy

Therapy differs from coaching. It helps heal past events that stop you from moving forward in your life right now. Therapy helps you deal and resolve traumatic events. Or childhood events that shape your beliefs about what is possible for you right now.

There are different types of therapy.  These include counseling and various forms of psychotherapy. If you see a psychologist, they will often use Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT).

There is also hypnotherapy, which is what I specialize in. Hypnotherapy can help deal with, heal and resolve past events. Or it can be more solution focused, which makes it similar to coaching.

If you would like me to be your therapist or coach, then this page provides further details.

9. Overcoming Fears

One of the best self-development activities is overcoming your fears. I believe that fear is the biggest barrier to success. It’s fear that keeps people stuck. One of the fastest ways to grow and improve yourself is to overcome fears.

Do things that scare or frighten you, especially those that won’t affect you physically. For example, public speaking, talking to strangers, tough phone calls or recording videos.

Perhaps it’s having that difficult conversation with your partner or boss that you’ve been putting off for weeks.

Rather than tackling your biggest fears head on, you can start gently.  Break down your biggest fears into smaller action steps. As you complete each step, your confidence and experience will grow and you’ll feel more able to overcome the bigger fears.

Another way to strengthen your fear muscle is to do something new, unfamiliar or a little uncomfortable each day.  This could include going to a new café, trying a different food or exploring a more efficient way of doing a task at work.

10. Completing Challenges

A challenge is when you invest a significant amount of time and energy to achieve something monumental in a relatively short space of time. Here are some examples.

  • Training and then running a marathon
  • Starting a business
  • Changing jobs or your career
  • Losing a significant amount of weight.

When you set challenges, it forces you to step up and become more.  Challenges help you prove that you can do something, that you thought was difficult or even impossible.

Challenges are fantastic for overcoming habits and for achieving the more important and meaningful goals in your life.

For challenges to work effectively, you want to specify an exact amount of time.  This could be 30, 60, 90 or 100 days.  For me, 100 days works incredibly well.  I started Self Help for Life and my Hypnotherapy business in 100 days.  You can achieve so much in 100 days when you put your mind to it. It’s also long enough to make it a habit.

I do a 100 Day-Challenge every year and I use Gary Ryan Blair’s 100 Day Challenge program to motivate me, inspire me and keep me accountable during that time.

Related Articles

How to Change Your Life in 100 Days

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11. Taking Action

I touched on this earlier, but it’s so important! Learning a new self-development activity, tool or technique is useless if you don’t apply it to your life. Or a Stephen Covey says “to know and not to do is not to know”.

So here are some examples:

  • Reading and learning the most effective dating techniques versus going on dates
  • Researching the most effective ways to speak in public versus speaking in public
  • Learning all the different ways to make money on the internet versus starting an internet-based business.

Knowing is easy. You can gain the knowledge by going to university or surfing the web. All the information you need is readily available.

Doing is applying what you’ve learned and testing it out.  You’re not fully committed at this stage.

Living is taking consistent action on what you’ve learned. You improve through repetition. This leads to consistent and predictable results.  The action becomes a habit and perhaps even part of who you are.

12. Expressing Gratitude

The key reason for doing self-development activities is to achieve something that we don’t already have.  It’s easy to become focussed (even obsessed) about achieving goals and major life changes.  This can lead to unhappiness and frustration, especially if the goal takes much longer than you intended.

It’s easy to forget what you have now and the good aspects of your life. Therefore gratitude and appreciation are so important.

Take a few minutes to be grateful for what you already have. Write all the things you’re grateful for and that you appreciate. Create a gratitude journal and list additional things each day.

Focus on simple things such as having enough food, good health, a safe and comfortable place to live or enough money. Be grateful for waking up and experiencing another day of your life.

Related Article

The 11 Benefits of Gratitude and How to Practice it Daily

To Conclude

So now you have a list of the 12 best self-development activities, including many of the ones I do regularly. If you want to crush your goals, be happier more fulfilled and more successful, then apply some of these self-development activities to your life and reap the benefits.

If you enjoyed reading this article and found it useful, please leave a comment or question below.  I would love to hear what you think!   Please also click on the stars below to rate this post. Also, feel free to share this article with other people or on social media.

Have you ever wondered what the most successful people do? The ones that are truly happy, fulfilled and prosperous? Well, I reveal this in my 10 Strategies for Your Success eBook. It’s a great read and as a treat for reading this article, it’s yours for free!

Just click the button below and I’ll send this eBook to you right away.

Thank you for reading this article.  I hope you are having a wonderful day!

Paul

For most people, a perfect life is a balanced life.  It’s when you satisfy your wants and needs in all areas of life.  In this article, I will cover the 8 key areas of life. This will provide a foundation to help you design your perfect life.

You will learn why it’s important to set goals in each area of life and what could happen if you don’t!  I’ll then cover each of these 8 life areas in detail. I’ll also give you some ideas and suggestions to help you improve each of these areas of life.

I also score myself for each of these 8 life areas. You might find my scores interesting and revealing! I encourage you to score yourself too.  This is an important first step to creating a balanced life.  A life where you feel happy and fulfilled.

I’m a big believer that you’re either improving or going backwards in all the major areas of life. You never really stand still.

Also, you will be happier when you’re intentionally focussing and working on all the key areas of your life. It helps you put yourself first rather than other people. It ensures that one area of your life such as your career does not take over.

These 8 areas of life work best for me. However, you can change these slightly, to fit in with your culture or values.

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Career or Business

So the first area of life is career or business. You will probably work in a career or business for 40 or more hours a week. So you want to make sure it’s something that is fulfilling, enjoyable, and that challenges or stretches you.  You want a career or business that meets your values, interests you and helps you become a better person.

Ideally you want to have a great company culture, wonderful people to work with that may become your friends too. This includes a supportive and understanding manager that stretches and challenges you.

I’ve had jobs in the past that have not been enjoyable. Jobs where I struggled to relate to my work colleagues. For me, this negatively influenced my friendships, intimate relationship and my mindset when I wasn’t at work. So when your job or career does not meet your needs, it can affect other areas of your life too.

If you’re running a business, you want to ensure that the business is growing and improving and that you’re getting better at being the business owner and entrepreneur.

Regularly check key metrics to ensure that you are on the right track and that your business is growing in the way you want it to. You want to have a great reputation and feel proud of what you do.

My Score: 8

I put a lot of time, energy and focus into my career and business. However, I value other aspects of my life and make time for them as you’re about to find out.

Health & Fitness

I believe that health and fitness are significantly different, so I’ve split this area of life into 2 sub-areas.  You can look very fit on the outside but have poor health. Or you can be healthy on the inside, without being strong, flexible and in great shape.

Health

Health is about what you eat, drink, the quality of your sleep and how you deal with stress.

Do you have any destructive habits in this area? Perhaps it’s comfort eating, or drinking too much alcohol.

When destructive health habits go unchecked, they gradually affect your health in subtle but very predictable ways. The effect of a poor diet on your health over a 10 or 20-year period is very certain and predictable.  Chronic health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes are very likely to happen when you have poor health habits that continue for years. Anything you do (or don’t do) consistently will have predictable results on your health. 

Long-term continuous and prolonged stress can dramatically affect your health. Your body is very well equipped to deal with short-term stress, through the fight-or-flight response.  However, when this stress continues unchecked, this can put your health at risk.  For some great ways to reduce stress, I encourage you to read this article.

Fitness

This falls into three categories.  First, cardiovascular fitness, which increases your energy. It’s good for your heart, circulation and it forces you to breathe fully. Second, strength or weight training to help you become a stronger person.  Finally, stretching, yoga or pilates to increase your range of movement and become more flexible. 

My Score: 6

My diet is pretty good. I eat mainly whole foods. I drink some alcohol, but not much. I normally get 8 hours of good quality sleep most nights.  Fitness is more challenging for me.  My cardiovascular fitness is good as I walk a lot. However, I struggle with strength training and flexibility.

Partner or Intimate Relationships

If you’re single, this is about getting a partner. If you’re in a relationship, this is about keeping your partner. So let’s start with finding a partner.

Finding a Partner

This isn’t completely within your control. However, there are lots of things you can do to increase your chances of finding the right person. Start by knowing what you want in a partner. What would your ideal partner look like? What would their values be? What mental, emotional and spiritual qualities would this person have? Write this all down and visualize it regularly. I did this in my twenties, and it really worked for me!

Then take action. Go on dates, join clubs, go to places where your ideal person might hang out. Use internet dating. Practice talking to new people daily. The more people you meet, the sooner you’ll find the right person for you.

Keeping Your Partner

If you’re in a relationship and you want to keep your partner, then prioritize quality time together. This could be a weekly date night, or a weekend away once a month.

Remember the romantic things you did when you first met and start doing these again. Buy flowers, surprise presents or treats.

Communication is super important in a relationship and you can always improve the way you communicate. Ensure that you’re always communicating as effectively as you can.

Dream together. Think about your future life together and how you would like that to be. Be grateful and never take your relationship for granted. Appreciate the little things your partner says and does. Say “I love you” regularly and enjoy being with your partner right now.

If you feel that your relationship is going backwards, then this great quote will help you get back on track. It is, “if you were to treat this person as if it was the beginning of the relationship, then there would be no end”.

My Score: 7

Hopefully, my wife agrees!

Money and Wealth

One of the fundamental reasons relationships end is a lack of money and the stress that comes from financial difficulties. So you can see how one area of life can influence another. Being in debt is hugely stressful, and that can negatively impact your relationship and your health.

To improve your financial situation, you want to earn more, spend less or do both! Personally, I find it easier to spend less money than make more money.  I think that’s the case for most people.

Budgeting

To get ahead financially, you want your living costs to be around 60% of your total income after tax. This leaves you with 10% for guilt free spending (for example nights out, restaurants and other treats) and 10% towards longer term purchases (for example vacations, a new TV or new furniture).

You save the final 20% for unexpected financial costs and for investing.  Unexpected financial costs include losing your job, serious illness, going through a divorce, a recession or a coronavirus health pandemic. Did you see that one coming?  These are all things that are unexpected and difficult to predict.

I cover these budgeting concepts in greater detail in my article on how to spend less than you earn.

Wealth

This is having an income stream that comes in regardless of whether or not you are working. This includes interest from savings, dividends from shares or rental income from an investment property. It could also be income from an online business where you’re selling physical or digital products on the internet.

Related Article : The Difference Between Rich and Wealthy People

My Score: 4

I am debt-free. However, my income is relatively low, and that’s a lifestyle decision. I’m reducing my expenses. I also believe that I have a good roadmap in place to improve my financial situation in the future.

Personal and Spiritual Development

Like health and fitness, I’ve broken this area of life into multiple sub-areas.

Personal Development

As you know, personal development helps you become a better person and be more effective and successful. You can do this by meditating, journaling, using creative visualization, repeating affirmations, reminding yourself of your goals, reading, learning and many other methods or techniques.

This also includes investing in courses and seminars that give you fresh information, insights and inspiration to better your life.

It’s essential that you apply what you learn consistently.  One of the best ways to do this is to have an empowering daily morning routine.  Before you do anything else, dedicate 15 mins, 30 mins or even 1 hour to your personal development.  You’ll feel so much better for it and your day will be much more productive and fulfilling.

Spiritual Development

This could include prayer, meditation, keeping a gratitude journal and expressing gratitude.  It’s about connecting to a higher power in whatever way that works for you.  This will depend on your religious or spiritual beliefs, so do what is right for you.

Community Activities and Volunteering

You may wish to include any community or volunteering activities in this area of life.  These activities often help you become a better person and increase your sense of connection with humanity.

My Score: 6

I learn and research personal development topics to share with you or to help my hypnotherapy clients. When I come across fresh approaches, I try them out on myself first. 

However, I don’t have a consistent personal development or spiritual practice at the moment. This is primarily due to my focus on helping others, growing my business and being in a good place mentally and emotionally right now.

Family, Friends and Social

I’ve also broken down this area of life into multiple sub-areas.

Family

Most important is your immediate family such as your parents, siblings and any sons or daughters. This is about spending time with them, resolving any conflicts and improving your relationship and connection with them.

However, you can also include uncles, aunts, grandparents, nephews, nieces and other extended family members here too.

Friends

For me, this is about connecting and reconnecting with good friends and spending quality time with them. I do this by having a weekly friend ritual. Once a week I spend an evening with a good friend that I haven’t seen for a while and we share experiences about life and catch up.

If some of your friends are a long way away, then why not meet up via Skype or Zoom? You can still share experiences and have a drink together. You’re just doing it virtually!

This might also be about making new friends by joining clubs and going on activities where you can meet like-minded people.  Personal development seminars can be great for this!

Social

This is connecting with groups of people, such as your work colleagues, school or college friends. It could also be social or activity groups.  I highly recommend going to meetup.com and finding groups in your local area. It’s free. 

When I first moved to Sydney, Australia 10 years ago, meetup.com was the way I met most of my friends. There are hundreds of meetup groups covering a wide variety of common interests.

My score: 5

Whilst I’ve been busy developing Self Help for Life and my hypnotherapy business, meeting up with friends has been on the back-burner for a while.  However, I’m redressing this now through my one-on-one friend ritual.

Recreation and Hobbies

These are the fun things that make you happy and help you relax.

Recreation

For me, this is day trips, weekends away and longer holidays or vacations. It’s experiencing other countries, cultures, seeing unique wildlife or tasting different foods.

When I was a child, my parents always took us into the country for a few hours each weekend.  It was lovely to go hiking and get some fresh air.

None of my other friends at school did this.  They were stuck at home whilst their parents were doing chores. I’m lucky that my parents valued the importance of recreation.

Hobbies

Hobbies could include playing or watching different sports, going kayaking, sailing or playing golf. You could play a musical instrument or listen to music. Perhaps for you it’s art or crafts, or playing computer games.

Whatever it is for you, take some time to cultivate a hobby.

My Score: 7

My major hobby is walking. I love walking in nature and make time to do that. Also weekends away, holidays and vacations. I also love music and use my Sony noise-canceling headphones to listen to music whilst walking and on public transport.

Home, Environment and Things

Home

Home is about the place you live in. Is it large enough, well designed, comfortable and peaceful? Do you like the color scheme and the overall feel of your home?  This area of life would include doing any home renovations.

Environment

This is the area you live in. Is it a safe area where you feel comfortable walking the streets? This would also include access to shops, cafes and public transport if this is important to you.

It also includes the weather. Is it a hot or cold area? Do you get lots of sunshine or many gray, cloudy or wet days? 

People that live in the far north (for example, in Scandinavia) often suffer from S.A.D. This stands for seasonal affective disorder and is common in the winter months when daylight hours are typically 6 hours or fewer. This can have a major effect on the mental health of people in these areas.

So do winters affect you? Do you feel down and depressed in the winter? If so, consider the influence of S.A.D.

What is the air quality like where you live? Is the air clean and fresh or polluted?

Environmental influences often take time to change.  However, consider these when you next move house or decide on a new town, city or country to live in.

Things

This is buying things that are not related to a hobby. For example, a new car, TV, computer, smart phone, or other gadget. This would also include clothes.

My Score: 8

We live in a very safe and beautiful part of Sydney in Australia.  We have views of Sydney Harbour from my apartment and it’s very safe to walk alone at night.

However, this wasn’t always the case.  Just over 10 years ago, we lived in London. The crowds, packed public transport, icy winters with short daylight hours bothered us, so we hatched up a plan to move to Australia. It was a massive undertaking, but we will never look back.  It took a lot of time and commitment to make it happen, but we did it!

In Conclusion

Now you know the 8 major areas of life.  Awareness is the first step to change, so I encourage you to score yourself for each of the 8 areas.  Discover the areas that are strong for you and the ones that require more attention. 

Some areas will be more important to you than others. That’s okay.  The most important thing is that you strive to live a life that makes you happy and fulfilled right now, but also in the longer term too.  Regularly checking in and scoring each area of your life will help you do that.

If you enjoyed reading this article and found it useful, please leave a comment or question below.  I would love to hear what you think!   Please also click on the stars below to rate this post. Also, feel free to share this article with other people or on social media.

Have you ever wondered what the most successful people do? The ones that are truly happy, fulfilled and prosperous? Well, I reveal this in my 10 Strategies for Your Success eBook. It’s a great read and as a treat for reading this article, it’s yours for free!

Just click the button below and I’ll send this eBook to you right away.

Thank you for reading this article.  I hope you are having a wonderful day!

Paul